No need to wear a mask? Old Fauci clip is taken out of context on YouTube

A YouTube user on May 9, uploaded a clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci telling CBS masks weren’t necessary. The clip is actually from early March.

May 15, 2020
Category: Fact-Checking

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I wish I could say I’m having a happy Friday, but I have more friends sharing bad coronavirus information. It’s starting to get old.

Speaking of old — here’s what I’m talking about: On May 9, a YouTube channel called Voice of the Majority uploaded a clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci telling CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jonathan LaPook that there’s no reason people in the U.S. should wear a mask. One glaring problem: the clip is from a March interview.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in early April updated its guidelines to recommend Americans wear masks in public.

Voice of the Majority has only posted 23 videos and has 1,400 followers, but the out-of-context video, titled “Dr. Fauci now says no masks,” has racked up more than 510,000 views — double the amount it had Thursday. And Google search interest in “60 minutes Fauci masks” hit its peak earlier this week.

Posts referencing the YouTube URL have garnered more than 270,000 reactions, including nearly 40,000 shares, according to CrowdTangle data. I first noticed the video in my Facebook newsfeed, and it appears to be following the same pipeline I noted about “Plandemic” in my Monday newsletter.

Yesterday, users in Facebook groups with names like “OFFICIAL Q / QANON,” “Collective Action Against Bill Gates” and “Independent Thinkers of South Africa” — all public groups — shared the video. But the bulk of interaction appears to be in private groups.

I couldn’t glean much about who uploaded the old clip to YouTube. But following the URL in the user’s email address, I found what appeared to be a Facebook-like social network with this introduction: “You have found a Social Media Community of Amazing People Who Share Your Conservative Values.”

I emailed Voice of the Majority for comment but haven’t heard back.

The bottom line: Make sure you do some research on COVID-19 videos before sharing them, because you can’t always trust the YouTube timestamp. And if you’re out in public, please wear a mask.

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Alex Mahadevan is a senior multimedia reporter at MediaWise. He can be reached at amahadevan@poynter.org or on Twitter at @AlexMahadevan. Follow MediaWise on TikTok.

Comments

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  • Why is it a glaring problem that Dr. Fauci said this in March? He literally stated that it’s not necessary to wear a mask during a pandemic. He said it may block a droplet or two but only gives people a false sense of safety. This is (supposedly) the top expert on all things pandemic. If that’s what he believes, then the better question would be “Why did the CDC change the guidelines?” Your argument clearly makes no sense and I can’t believe you think the time stamp is relevant after hearing the content of the statement.

    • I totally agree. Who cares about the date unless it’s from when he was in grade school. A Dr. with his supposed expertise on pandemics should know that masks help to keep you from spreading the virus and help to keep you from getting it. Especially an N95 respirator mask. I’ve used these in my garage while working on different things and they work very well. My glasses get fogged up from time to time, but I don’t inhale things I’m not supposed to inhale, so I don’t mind the fog.

  • I’m not sure how the clip in your opinion being outdated means out of context. They are two different things. Out of context means Dr. Fauci meant something other than the meaning meant to be taken by the originator of the clip. I don’t see that. If you want to call it outdated in light of recent events that might be arguable but it is not out of context. Viewing the entire interview referenced in full context yields no other interpretation other than Dr. Fauci at that time did not believe masks were at all effective. Perhaps he changed his mind in a matter of weeks but playing devil’s advocate that may very well be the point at issue. Regardless it is not out of context.

  • I am all for wearing masks, and I like Dr. Fauci.I don’t believe in, ” Plandemic,” or some conspiracy, and I am liberal. That being said, to not wear a mask seems to have been terrible advice from the WHO, CDC, and also from him, also in early March. It was lacking in common sense! Think of the lives that could have been saved with better advice back then! We had no way of knowing if we were infected or not without DAILY testing, etc. Even then, you can get tested and be negative, walk out the door and get sneezed on or whatever, and get the virus! To me, that should have meant for everyone should get masks as soon as possible. I was already thinking that in early March, as it seemed pretty darn clear to critical thinkers. The Chinese were already all mainly wearing masks and had learned at that point. Common sense should have dictated caution and the possibility of people being a-symptomatic carriers, even in early March, accepting that even though barriers may not be 100% effective, they certainly could help or couldn’t hurt. Sneezes and coughing clearly spread droplets. Why shouldn’t everyone wear a barrier mask? Why has that just been discovered since March in the long history of the world of scientific research? Why are the people who are supposed to know better, simply not knowing better? I mean, many KNOWN illnesses have an incubation time. The advice should have been given for everyone wear some sort of mask or scarf or something over their mouth and noses, please, just to be safe.

  • Who cares if the clip is from March…he still said what he said, that masks do not prevent the spread of a virus in public. He said that wearing a mask does not protect against infection or prevent you from spreading. You people. SMH